My friend and I went to North Carolina to visit one of our close friends this weekend. It was a gloomy drive, but we had an awesome weekend once we arrived. Driving back to Atlanta yesterday it was raining quite hard and my copilot fell asleep, so it was the perfect atmosphere to be alone with my thoughts. I couldn’t believe we spent roughly 12 hours in a car, the latter five and a half practically swimming down 85 South, just to be around a friend. We didn’t do anything particularly special, the weather wasn’t even that great, but it was totally worth it… And, I couldn’t help smiling a very familiar smile to myself.
My Mom and Dad had really good friends that my siblings and I grew up to know quite well ourselves. They would come around for holidays and birthday parties and have us over to their houses to just relax or have dinner. Although I appreciated them, I didn’t really give much thought to their friendship until my Mom passed. My Dad’s friends became like second, third, and fourth sets of parents without being asked, but even more shocking to me was the continued presence of my Mom’s friends in our lives even when she was no longer physically present. There is never a birthday that passes without a card or gift, my graduations were just as important as those of their own children, and to this day there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t receive a call, text, or Facebook message full of well wishes on everything going on in my life. They don’t have to do any of this, they just do… And they do so ten years later, still bearing that same smile.
When I was younger I didn’t really understand why they did the things they did. Majority of my friendships at this point (teenage years) were surface level and heavily determined by the homeroom we were assigned, who was of similar popularity, and/or the brand of clothes I wore. After some time you naturally come to the realization that your relationships are becoming more mature the older you get. But, I will argue that despite this, your true friendships really start to blossom when you’re an adult. When you’re done with school and other kinds of forced social interactions, it’s easier to see who is still around for you and who you are willing to go out of your way to spend time with.
Whether I understood the friendships of my parent’s or not, I knew that I always wanted that for my life. And, I know it sounds silly, but each time I get that smile, accompanied by that deep, happy, warm feeling, I’m reminded that I now have it. The people who have helped me through insecurities. The people who have given me second, third, and fourth sets of parents. The people that will drive across Atlanta in rush hour traffic or even across state lines to spend time with me. The people I do life with. But most importantly, the people who give me my parent’s smile. My beyond life friends.